Funded in part by SAMHSA's Project AWARE initiative in collaboration with Connecticut State Department of Education and Connecticut Department of Children and Families
SCHOOL MENTAL HEALTH NEWSLETTER:
Resources for COVID and Beyond
Back to School Guidance
About this Newsletter
During the last school year, we published a school mental health newsletter 
series to support schools during the pandemic. This fall, schools will look
and feel very different with new rules and regulations. Many school staff,
caregivers, and students may feel anxious or overwhelmed, however, this
time of uncertainty is an opportunity for the school community to learn strategies and skills to create a more holistic environment.
 
To facilitate this process, this “Back to School” edition of our school mental health newsletter includes guidance to help the school community foster resilience and positive coping during this uncertain time. It provides links to social-emotional learning resources for schools, behavioral health supports for students and caregivers, and strategies for rethinking school discipline.
Social-Emotional Learning Resources
Aperture Education's Strategies for a Successful School Year
This comprehensive resource focuses on how educators can use social-emotional competencies to strengthen student resilience, support their colleagues, and help provide social-emotional support to families in their homes. This packet includes: 

  • Tips to engage in various social-emotional strategies
  • Links to helpful webinars and social-emotional tools
  •  Downloadable activity sheets to help educators learn new skills

*Key feature of this resource: provides an easy to navigate table of contents for ease of use.
Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence: Register for a Free SEL Course
The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is offering a free, asynchronous course for employees of Connecticut schools, districts or education centers. Registration is offered on a rolling basis through December 31, 2020 and will be hosted by Coursera. Individuals who enroll in this 10-hour course will:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the science of stress and trauma 
  •  Enhance skills in identifying and managing difficult emotions
  • Explore the intersection of race, bias, identity and social emotional learning

*Key feature of this resource: free training in SEL competencies, offered by leaders in the field.
Connecticut State Department of Education's SEL Website
The Connecticut State Department of Education is currently curating Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and trauma resources specific to the Connecticut school community. The website includes various national resources to aid school staff and families in developing and implementing social-emotional competencies. Resources will be added on an on-going basis, so check back regularly for the newest updates.

*Key feature of this resource: continuously updated resources relevant to the CT school community.
Behavioral Health Support
Call 2-1-1: Mobile Crisis Intervention Services
Mobile Crisis Intervention Services (formerly EMPS), is a free service offered by the State of Connecticut. This service connects children and adolescents who are experiencing an emotional or behavioral crisis to trained mental health professionals, across the state, within 45 minutes. Mobile Crisis can be accessed by dialing 2-1-1 and then following the prompts. Anyone can call on behalf of the child or adolescent and the service is provided directly in their home, school, and/or community.

*Key feature of this resource: meet with a trained mental health clinician, Monday – Friday from 6:00 am – 10:00 pm, Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 1:00 pm – 10:00 pm. For crises occurring outside these times, clinicians are available, by phone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Talk it Out: A Hotline for Parents and Caregivers
Parents and caregivers of children may be under tremendous stress or have many questions due to the pandemic. This hotline offers verbal support and a website that includes resources for child care, education, food, income, mental health and more.

*Key feature of this resource: talk directly to a trained professional, Monday –  Friday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm.
UConn's Collaboratory on School and Child Health Offers Resources for Re-Opening
The UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health offers schools trauma-informed resources for re-opening during the pandemic. These resources can be used to assess trauma-informed responses to COVID-19 and to implement strategies to foster a safe school environment.

*Key feature of these resources: sample questions for assessments and easy-to-use, low-cost strategies that can be implemented in existing school initiatives.
School Mental Health Spotlight
Rethinking Discipline and Supporting Students’ Behavioral Health Using Connecticut’s School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI): An Interview with Erika Treannie of Bristol Public Schools
CHDI recently interviewed Erika Treannie regarding her role in leading Bristol Public Schools’ participation in the School-Based Diversion Initiative (SBDI). SBDI is a school-level initiative coordinated statewide by CHDI that has served 56 schools across 20 districts over the past decade. The goals of SBDI are to reduce exclusionary discipline (e.g., suspensions, expulsions, arrests) and to connect students with behavioral health needs to appropriate school and community-based services and supports. These goals align with the current long-term plan in Bristol Public Schools to better address and support students’ behavioral health needs.

In the following conversation, Erika shares how Bristol Public Schools is using SBDI to change the way the district approaches discipline and behavioral health using strategies that are less punitive and more restorative. 

Q: Why did your district decide to participate in the SBDI initiative? 
A: After reviewing the SBDI initiative we felt our Bristol Public Schools' goals aligned seamlessly with providing support and services to students determined to be at-risk of discipline intervention. It offered a way to rethink our approach to discipline and reduce arrest rates, while connecting students to behavioral health services. 

Q: How is SBDI working at your school? 
A: The two schools who participated in SBDI last year (2018-2019) had a decrease in school-based arrests and exclusionary discipline and an increase in 211 mobile crisis referrals to help address students' behavioral health needs and assist families in finding services and support. Clearly this illustrates a shift from reactive structures to proactive engagement of the student and family. This school year (2019-2020), the two new schools who are participating in the SBDI grant have shown similar trends. 
To keep up with the latest information and resources related to families, educators and providers, check out these links from CHDI and our Project AWARE partners:

CHDI website: COVID CHDI Portal

 CT State Department of Education website: COVID SDE Portal

DCF website: COVID DCF Portal
For more info about Project AWARE or this newsletter contact:
If you would like to opt out of receiving future School Mental Health Newsletters,
please email: thill@uchc.edu
Child Health and Development Institute
860.679.1519 | info@chdi.org

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